Oaks hope Liber Nauticus less impressive than Secret Gesture

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Sir Michael Stoute’s Liber Nauticus was sent off a 4/6 favourite in the Musidora Stakes at York and the unspectacular manner in which she scored on the Knavesmire has seen her trimmed by a single point to 4/1 in the Oaks betting.

Rather than a great surge of impressed post-race wonga, such a price contraction seems most likely a reaction to the evidence that the horse is fit, well and has progressed over the summer.

At just a shade longer than the deeply impressive Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Secret Gesture – herself 7/2 for the fillies Classic – Liber Nauticus looks a little short at the price. Ralph Beckett’s daughter of Galileo scooted clear of her 93-rated rival by some 10 lengths last time out.

There will be valid question marks over the quality of the bare form of the Musidora, with the second home a handicap winner off a mark of 77 last time out, but fourth Indigo Lady had at least earned a rating of 104 courtesy of a third in a modest 1m Chantilly Group 3 in her previous race.

The race was run at an undemanding clip and rounding the bend into the straight the daughter of Azamour seemed to be cantering as her rivals began to press on.

Rather than put the race to bed in flashy fashion it took Liber Nauticus some time to get on top of her principal pursuers.

Once she did however, there was only ever going to be one winner and she looked for all the world like an out-and-out stayer for whom the extra 2f of the Oaks will be meat and drink.

She’s a filly of striking size and looks a real galloping type – a trait which had connections musing the suitability of Epsom for a horse who has been at the pinnacle of the Oaks betting all summer.

With Epsom’s undulations requiring a well-balanced filly, Peter Reynolds – racing manager to owners Ballymacoll Stud – suggested an Oaks entry is far from assured, with the Irish Oaks at the Curragh a viable alternative.

Her vastly-experienced trainer will have left plenty to work on ahead of a potential Epsom date, so improvement should be expected, although the same can be said for Secret Gesture.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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